Content is the anchor of your entire blog. It’s the thing that either keeps people coming back, or deters them from ever returning. As such, your writing should always be evolving. In other words, you need to be proactive in learning to be a better writer all the time.
I was going to talk about the mechanics of content, such as formatting, but decided instead to talk about the heart of content.
There are several elements that make up the heart of your writing; every single piece. But different people will bring their own unique voice.
Your story, the one you’ve lived and the one you’re living (which are one in the same) is yours to tell. It’s an unfolding and unveiling of the glory of God, but it can only be revealed through your sharing it.
Sharing your story should show the reader, not tell. This is something I am still learning. It’s important to be very descriptive in order to bring the reader along with you in your story. You want to write in a way that allows them to step into it.
I remember during the writer’s workshop at Relevant last year, I was in a small group lead by Lisa Jo, and she had us do a writing exercise that described a memory. Here’s what I wrote:
It was a sunny day; an ordinary day. I was talking with friends–watching one play this driving arcade game. Then I smelled it. But it was fleeting–burnt marshmallows over campfire. Normally a sweet smell, but not today. Frantic employees and hidden panic on faces. I asked what was wrong and she replied firmly, “The rink is on fire. Don’t. Tell. Anyone.”
We’ve been evacuated and I’m walking away from the building, down the hill to a restaurant. I then venture across the street as smoke billows from the roof. The roof explodes and I huddle on the ground with a friend crying–watching my favorite place to be as it is consumed by a blazing and hot fire. I walk by, across the street, and I can feel the heat. People line the streets, sirens in the distance and flashing lights surround.
Your writing shouldn’t stop there. Once you share a piece of your story, then you explain what lessons you learned and how the reader can be challenged or encouraged by it.
For example, when you share the story of having a bad day, share how you could have responded to that bad day. Describe for your readers how they could respond during a difficult day. Each writer will have her own style, her own voice on how she conveys this message. You simply want to make it clear for the reader what the lesson is; what the point is.
People read your stories when you tie in how it can relate to them. Every story will not relate with every reader. That’s OK.
Your goal in telling your stories is to help others. It might help someone simply by knowing they are not alone. Some might feel hopeless or lost and not know what to do.
People are searching. They need to know they are not alone and there are solutions out there they may not have thought of.
Use your stories to bring hope, encouragement, and practical help to people. Although your story is important, it does not stand alone.